"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
July 17, 2008
Ever too old for Primary?
by Orson Scott Card

While serving in the presidency of their ward's Primary, my mother-in-law and my daughter-in-law both ran into the same problem.

They desperately needed more teachers for a crowded Primary. The presidency would submit to the bishop the names of older sisters who had no calling in the ward -- women who understood the gospel, who had wit and energy to spare, or so it seemed.

But the bishop would return with the message that sister after sister had declined the calling.

The reason was the same, every time: "I served my time in the Primary when I was a young mother. Now I want to attend Relief Society."

Believe me, I understand the feeling. There are times when you think, "Can't I take a vacation from church service?"

You can, of course. We generally call it "going inactive."

But these sisters are by no means "inactive." They would be insulted if anyone suggested that they were.

Yet they disqualify themselves from the opportunity to teach children -- the members of the Church who are at their most impressionable age. The ones who would most benefit from the experience and wisdom and gospel knowledge of these older members of the Church.

And by "older," we're not talking 95 years of age. We're talking about women in their forties, fifties, and sixties. Before the hip replacement, before the arthritis, before the serious memory lapses.

(Men of the same ages might be just as reluctant, but apparently their names don't get submitted as often.)

When we first moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, it wasn't long before my wife, Kristine, was called to be education counselor in the Relief Society. The president was Sue Dowdy, and Kristine came to love and admire this good sister.

Later, after we moved from one ward to another in the city, leaving Sue behind, she served for many years as the seminary teacher.

In recent years, after working in the Raleigh Temple for a time, Sister Dowdy accepted a calling in her ward's Primary. She served as the accompanist for years, until inoperable cancer became so advanced that she simply didn't have the strength.

It was only in the last few weeks of her life that she couldn't continue serving in the Primary, and she told everyone how she really missed those children. When she passed away, it wasn't just the old people of the ward who knew who she was -- all the children knew her, and she is sorely missed.

Then there's Francis Griffin, who was one of the two original counselors when my wife was called as stake Relief Society president. Sister Griffin had already served for years as a ward Relief Society president.

When she retired as a teacher in the Greensboro school system, she moved to Danville, Virginia -- which is in our stake -- to teach for a few years there. She hadn't lived in Danville long before the bishop raided the stake Relief Society Presidency to take her to be ward Relief Society president.

Now she's retired again, and when she moved back to her home in Greensboro, they reluctantly released her in Danville.

Now, I ask you, is there anyone who would deny that Sister Griffin has earned the right to "retire" and simply attend Relief Society?

Yes, there is -- Sister Griffin herself. She doesn't have the stamina she once had -- hip and knee replacement surgeries can take some of the spunk out of you. But there she is, week after week, faithfully teaching the CTR 6 class.

What a blessing she is to those children, with her depth of knowledge, her love of the gospel, her spirituality.

Another example. Joseph Hamilton was our stake president when we first moved to Greensboro -- I served on the high council under him, and he ordained me a high priest.

When he was released as stake president, do you know what his next calling was? To be the Guide Scout leader in Primary! He seemed to have such a great time with those boys that I swear he loved the calling more than being stake president.

How much poorer the lives of those children would have been, if Sue and Francis and Joe had said, "I already raised my young children. I've already put in my church service. It's time for me to take a break! It's time for me to rest!"

Instead, they helped create a love for and knowledge of the gospel in the minds and hearts of children.

One of the reasons we hold onto our youth better than most churches (though not as well as we should!), is that we all help each other raise our children. We are their village.

No one is too old to be part of teaching the gospel to our little ones.


Bookmark and Share    

A New Thanksgiving Hymn
- - November 25, 2015
First Class
- - August 20, 2015
The Gifts of Conference
- - March 23, 2015
Christmas Is About A Baby
- - December 21, 2014
What Tithing Means
- - October 2, 2014
Earning Leisure
- - April 25, 2014
Mormon Materialism
- - April 10, 2014
Noah the Movie
- - April 3, 2014
On Terminology
- - May 2, 2013
More by Orson Scott Card

About Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.

Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series The Tales of Alvin Maker (beginning with Seventh Son), poetry (An Open Book), and many plays and scripts.

Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, he teaches occasional classes and workshops and directs plays. He also teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University.

Card currently lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and their youngest child, Zina Margaret.

More about Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card currently serves as second counselor in the bishopric.

Copyright © Hatrack River Enterprise Inc. All Rights Reserved. Web Site Hosted and Designed by WebBoulevard.com